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Making mistakes in your art

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Aug. 20, 2021

Three things happened that inspired me to write this article.

1) When reviewing an episode we recently completed for one of our comics, I realised I had missed a key character design aspect of one of our boys. Although it was not egregious, I did notice it, and it has been bugging me ever since. (It’ll get fixed soon though. I can’t unsee it.)

2) I scheduled the weekly Twitter discussion hour, #quackchat, to go out on the Monday rather than the Sunday without realising that I had done that. As I am from the southern lands of the Earth, I often have to translate time zones and that evening, when I was scheduling the tweets, I picked the wrong day. Come Sunday evening (early Monday morning for me) and I logged on only to realise, all too late, what I had done.

3) Keith Alan Morgan, sent a very polite tweet wondering what had happened to the chat to which I replied that I had messed it up. They were very nice about it, and suggested this topic. So here we are.

What do you do when you make a mistake?

I’ll be exploring different aspects of this topic over the next couple of articles, as the creator’s job with regards to webcomics is a multifaceted one. In this article, I’ll be going over the common mistakes creators make when it comes to art and what can be done to fix it.

Forgetting small details
The beauty of webcomics is that you can go back and correct any mistakes you made by simply uploading new artwork. Many creators do this when it comes to long running series. Do you need to inform your readers however? If they notice it and leave a comment, it is good practice to reply, thanking them for noticing the error. It can be a simple, “Thank you for that. I’ll get that fixed.” Just be sure to follow through. This is a good way of building a rapport with your audience as they will feel listened to and respected which is always a good thing. Remember, that you don’t have to respond to comments that are nasty or unconstructive. Comments such as “This is shit.” need no reply.

Simplify where needed
Small details tend to get lost when a design is complicated. When you are drawing a new character, keep in mind you will need to draw them multiple times. The more detailed they are the more work it will involve and, in turn, the more details can be missed. So where possible, try and keep it simple. If the design has to be complicated then…

Keep references on hand
Draw a quick character sheet with all the details you want to include. Include colour swatches, patterns or assets you plan on using. When you’re drawing the character keep it on hand so that you’re less likely to miss anything. References also help you improve your drawing and memory so it’s a good habit to get into.

Leave room for revision
Giving yourself time to review your work will help you catch mistakes before the page goes live. This could be anything from spelling to character details to shading or an incorrect background. If you’re struggling to find time or reach the stage where you have looked at a page for too long, hand it over to another creator or friend for review. Ask them to look out for particular details you might commonly miss and to review the spelling. Getting a fresh pair of eyes always helps!

What art mistakes do you make? Do you ever go back and fix them? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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PaulEberhardt at 11:29AM, Aug. 23, 2021

Sorry, couldn't resist. If my last comment is too silly I'll delete it of course. It has a serious core, though: the most important thing with any mistake is keeping cool. If swearing like a trooper helps vent the steam instead of building it up, do so. It doesn't matter how you achieve the necessary calmness, just that you do. Then go about it rationally and methodically: how much does the mistake annoy you, how much does it distort the reading experience (i.e. annoy your readers), how much effort will it take to fix it - and how do these things balance against each other? Once you find one mistake you'll find more anyway, so some prioritizing never hurts. That's my experience anyway, because I've always wanted to heed your last piece of advice in this article but could never bring myself to it. Also keep in mind that readers like an occasional mistake, because they show you're human (although I'd wonder why anyone should think otherwise and hope they don't in any case).

PaulEberhardt at 11:22AM, Aug. 23, 2021

The ten-step-method: 1. Spot mistake --- 2. Rub eyes and look again, unbelievingly... damn it, there it is staring in your face! --- 3. Feel moisture welling up in said rubbed eyes --- 4. Bang head on table, shouting very bad words (in different languages, just in case) --- 5. Hide in corner, not daring to look at the screen that contains this new nail in the coffin of your ruined reputation --- 6. Reflect loudly on own unworthiness and incompetence until neighbours bang on wall --- 7. Curse mean old world and neighbours in general (don't be shy with the volume) --- 8. Put pistol to head --- 9. Put waterpistol down again and dry hair with towel (What - you didn't think I meant a real one, did you?! Don't be silly!) --- 10. Calmly fix mistake like the professional you pretend to be / Alternatively, act inconspicuously (whistling "La Paloma" or something) and firmly maintain it's supposed to be that way.

ChipperChartreuse at 4:44PM, Aug. 20, 2021

Thanks for this! Haha I do curse because I choose to make my character costuming a bit on the elaborate side, but that's half the fun for me. My last page I know I didn't get one of my panels to be an *exact* replica going from close up to farther away (my character's collar was definitely off), but I just had to finish the page and I'm okay letting it go...maybe. After reading this I flipped through my comic again just to see the progression of the art, and saw I missed a word in one of my speach bubbles. Oof, and it was in the last chapter. Looks like I've got some fixing to do! Definitely a good idea to have a buddy look at your stuff for you if you can!

bravo1102 at 4:33AM, Aug. 20, 2021

Continuity editor! Relatively easy to fix a Continuity error when drawing, just pencil it in there. Done. That's why my drawn comic is so simple. How hard is character design Continuity when the characters are straws and a bucket? But the other ones -- lots and lots of careful planning and placement between shots. Matching hand positions so the action flows? Costume flubs, hair, property and was that there the last scene with this set? I forgot a prop the character needs, it doesn't comes out of thin air. And if shots are done out of order to accommodate set changes?

KAM at 3:09AM, Aug. 20, 2021

They? When did I become multiple people? ;-)

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